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Kaliningrad Region: Curonian Spit - The beaches of North-West Russia
October 23, 2006 17:37


The Kaliningrad region is an ideal place to spend your holidays, especially if you like not only lying in the sun but exploring the surroundings.

Before telling you about vacation opportunities, here is a little background about the region. The first inhabitants of these lands were primitive Prussians. In the 13th century they gave way to Germans of the Teutonic Order who took over and built a lot of stone castles. The castles are still numerous in the Kaliningrad region although the WWII battles of 1944-1945 inflicted substantial damage on the Teutonic knights’ legacy. In 1945, under the ruling of the Potsdam Conference, the region with the city of Koenigsberg as its center was handed over to the USSR. A year after it was renamed into Kaliningrad.

Today, it is Russia’s westmost exclave bordering with Lithuania (in the North and East) and Poland (in the South). As for the region’s holiday-making opportunities, the Curonian spit is a must for every tourist. Indeed, it is a unique place. This thin strip of land – from 400 up to 4.000 meters wide - separates the salty Baltic Sea from the fresh-water Curonian lagoon. The Curonian spit is a sandy desert and a green meadow, a mossy area and a dry pine-strewn land. Within one day you can visit pine and broadleaved woods, dunes, marshes, sand beaches, inner lakes, fishing villages and research facilities. Its dunes are impressive, its landscapes are fantastic. Besides, the 98 kilometer-long Curonian Spit is a special ecosystem shared by Russia and Lithuania. Throughout its history man has influenced the environment of the area. In 1987, the Russian authorities set up a National Park of the Curonian Spit to preserve its plants and rich wildlife. One of world’s first ornithology centers opened here. The spit is a sort of stopover for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. Three villages – Lesnoye, Rybachy and Morskoye – are on the park’s territory of 7.890 hectares.

The area boasts mild winter, moderate warm summer, warm autumn and chilly spring. In summer the water temperature often reaches 26 degrees. No wonder - the lagoon is shallow.

Traditionally, the Curonian Spit has a lot of sanatoriums where guests get necessary treatment. Today, the National Park has about 30 recreation centers and 2 hotels. This is a nice place for family vacation. Since the environment of the Curonian spit is fragile the predominant way to learn about the regions wildlife and plants are educative excursions. Also, you can make a boat trip in one of park’s three comfortable motorboats. The most exciting route is 1-hour one along the spit connecting the village of Rybachy and open white dunes.

Do you like the crackle of fire? Do you fancy a friendly chit-chat round it? Do you like listening to fishermen’s stories? Then you should definitely go to one of the fishing villages. A nice catch of eels, sanders and breams will make you even happier. Those who are mad about ice fishing are welcome in winter. To enter the Curonian spit in a private car pay an environmental tax of some 3 US dollars. If you have a voucher from the travel agency you won’t have to pay anything.

So, if you are sick and tired of urban lifestyle and search for peace and solitude, sea and fresh air - go to the Curonian Spit!

Artiom Ganin

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Tags: Kaliningrad Region Curonian Spit Russian beaches Ecotourism Kaliningrad 

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